Nasturtium: The Flower Growing Under False Pretenses

Nasturtium FlowerYou know, the first time I remember seeing a nasturtium, I thought that there was something awfully shady about that character. Maybe it was the flashy orange blossom (though I hear she will dress in yellow or red too) or those platter shaped leaves (I mean honestly, what flower looks like that) or maybe it was her all to cozy and none to healthy relationship with aphids, but I knew that little old Nasturtium was hiding something.

And now I am vindicated. Ladies and Gentlemen of the gardening jury, I present you with the defendant – Nasturtium. OR, Miss so-called-Nasturtium should we call you Tropaeolum majus from the notorious Tropaeolaceae family. *dondondone*

*gasp*

*shock*

*amazement*

*gratuitous closeup of distraught flower*

What we commonly call Nasturtium is in fact not a nasturtium at all. If you want to get technical about it (and why not since we are in a totally fake court of garden law) a Nasturtium is what we commonly call watercress a.k.a. Nasturtium officinale.

So why would the false Nasturtium lie about it’s name? Most likely because the two plants taste alot alike. They look somewhat similar too. Considering that it grows wild in South and Central America, there is a good chance that the members of the European empires that moved into those places called it by the name of a plant that tasted like it back home, which would be Watercress, er, Nasturtium officinale .

So maybe this isn’t so much a case of false pretenses as it is a case of mistaken identity. That’s it, court adjourned. Nasturtium never meant to cause any harm, but let this be a lesson that this is just yet one more reason why common names for plants just make everything confusing.

2 thoughts on “Nasturtium: The Flower Growing Under False Pretenses
  1. I have a plant that was smuggled in from Germany which has platter-shaped leaves. Supposedly it has purple flowers, but mine has never bloomed. Anyone? Anyone?
    Mmmm….platter-shaped leaves….smuggling….

    [Reply]

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